Carrie Lam

Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam puts former head of immigration in charge of office

Eric Chan Kwok-ki immediately accepted the role of director of Lam’s interim office

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 11:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 11:06pm

Hong Kong’s former immigration director Eric Chan Kwok-ki is set to head the next chief executive’s office, according to incoming leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Announcing her choice for the chief executive-elect’s office director, Lam said she intended to have Chan stay on with her office after she is sworn in on July 1.

And after a pan-democrat claim that Chan’s background left him unfamiliar with the details of government policy, Lam insisted her new hire was the best candidate.

Next Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam starts process to form new cabinet

“The position and the responsibility of the chief executive-elect’s office director is very important,” Lam said.

“He has to assist me in preparing the next term of government, ensuring a smooth transition between the current and the next term of government in liaising with a large number of stakeholders, including

My cabinet is a team ... that will complement each other
Carrie Lam

Legislative Council members and of course local and overseas media to ensure effective governance of the Hong Kong SAR,” she said. Chan said he accepted Lam’s invitation without hesitation and agreed with the new style of governance promised by Lam.

“I believe Hong Kong will have a better future under the leadership of Mrs Lam,” he said.

When asked why he would join government, which has been described as a “hot kitchen”, Chan said: “Every job has its difficulties and I believe good policies and directions could cool the so-called hot kitchen down.”

Chan joined the Immigration Department in 1982 as an assistant immigration officer, working his way up to become deputy director in 2010 before being appointed director in 2011. He retired in April last year.

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Lam defended Chan after legislators questioned his understanding of policies, and the relevance of his disciplinary services background.

On Wednesday, while Chan’s appointment was only rumoured, the Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun said Chan was easy-going, but that he feared his disciplinary services background could mean he did not fully understand government policies.

Chan is the first senior official from the disciplinary services named as the chief executive’s office director, a post usually filled by administrative officers.

But Lam said on Thursday: “My cabinet is a team... that will complement each other.”

She described Chan as the “most suitable candidate” given his experience in public administration, adding there was no rule stipulating the post requires someone with a specific professional background.

Lam refused to disclose further details about her new team, only saying she was making “good progress”. But she has previously admitted facing an uphill battle in forming a cabinet and that many good candidates have been driven away from joining the government.

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Lam won the chief executive election on March 26, getting 777 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee. She beat the popular underdog and former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

The Office of the Chief Executive-elect was established in March to ensure a smooth transition of power from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to his successor. Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei is its secretary general.